Flood Assistance and Insurance Information

Standard home insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Find out how to help protect your home from flood damage by purchasing flood insurance.

Table of Contents

Do I need flood insurance?

There is no state law in Massachusetts that requires you to purchase flood insurance. But it's important to remember that your standard homeowner's insurance policy does not cover flood damage. 

If you have a mortgage, your lender will usually require flood insurance. However, if your home is paid off or just because your home is not in a designated flood plain, don't assume you will never have flood damage. Anywhere that it rains, it can flood. Flooding is a common and costly severe weather-related natural disaster. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, just 1 inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage to your home.

Flood insurance is available to protect homes, condominiums, apartments and nonresidential buildings, including commercial structures. A maximum of $250,000 of building coverage is available for single-family residential buildings; $250,000 per unit for residential condominiums. The limit for contents coverage on all residential buildings is $100,000, which is also available to renters. Commercial structures can be insured to a limit of $500,000 for the building and $500,000 for the contents.

What does flood insurance cover?

Flood insurance helps protects your building and your possessions. Flood insurance does not cover the land that your building occupies.

Building Coverage

Contents Coverage

• The insured building and its foundation

• Clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment

• The electrical and plumbing system

• Curtains

• Central air conditioning equipment, furnaces, and water heaters

• Portable window air conditioners

• Refrigerators, stoves, and built-in appliances

• Portable microwaves

• Permanently installed carpeting over unfinished flooring

• Carpeting that is not already included in property coverage


• Washers and dryers

The two most common reimbursement methods for flood claims are Replacement Cost Value (RCV) and Actual Cash Value (ACV). The RCV is the cost to replace damaged property. It is reimbursable to owners of single-family, primary residences insured to within 80% of the building's replacement cost. All other buildings and personal property (i.e. contents) are valued at ACV. The ACV is the RCV at the time of loss minus physical depreciation. Personal property is always valued using the ACV.

How can I buy flood insurance?

You may be able to purchase flood insurance from a private insurer or through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Administered by the federal government, NFIP flood insurance is available to renters, homeowners and business owners through approximately 85 insurance companies in more than 20,800 participating communities nationwide. 

If you are in a high-risk area or would like to find out more about flood insurance, contact your insurance company or agent. You can purchase flood coverage at any time. There is usually a 30-day waiting period before the policy goes into effect, with some exceptions:

  1. If you initially purchased food insurance while securing, adjusting, or renewing a loan for your property, there is no waiting period. Coverage goes into effect when the loan is closed.
  2. If you live in an area newly affected by a food map change, review your options with your insurance agent

Your policy won't cover a loss in progress or damage from flooding before the policy was in effect. In addition, you cannot increase the amount of insurance coverage you have during a loss in progress. You are still eligible to purchase flood insurance after your home, apartment or business has been flooded, provided that your community is participating in the NFIP.

Additional Resources

How do I file a flood insurance claim?

If you have a flood policy from the NFIP, contact the NFIP or your agent. Information about filing a claim is online here: | NFIP Claims Handbook | FloodSmart

If you purchased private flood insurance, contact the insurance company. If possible, photograph the outside of the premises, showing any damage or flooding. Also, photograph the inside of the premises, showing the damaged property and the height of the water if your property was flooded.

Separate the damaged from the undamaged property and put it in the best possible order for the insurance adjuster's examination. If reasonably possible, protect the property from further damage. Use your home inventory to work with the adjuster in presenting your claim.

Does the NFIP cover flooding resulting from the overflow of rivers?

The official definition used by the NFIP is: A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters;
  • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source;
  • Mudflow*; or
  • Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.

It should be noted that the NFIP will cover damages from water that backs up through sewers and drains, discharges from a sump pump, or seeps or leaks on or through the covered property, but only if a flood occurs in the area and the flood is the proximate cause of the sewer or drain backup, sump pump discharge or seepage of water.

What if I have water damage to my home not caused by flooding?

If your home has water damage from something other than a flood, like a burst pipe, contact your insurance company. Your standard policy usually covers water damage that is "sudden and accidental" but your insurance company will need to investigate to determine the cause of the loss. 


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